A friend of mine went out of town recently and returned with a tale of seeing a woman confront her misbehaving youngster by saying, “Mommy doesn’t appreciate the choices you’re making.”
As a parenting technique, that might be effective if your pre-schooler has been immersed in Kant’s theories of free will and categorical imperative. Otherwise, it’s completely inane. What parent seeks to negotiate with a young child over “choices”?
Sadly, many modern parents don’t seem to have a clue about how to raise children. You can find proof of that in a recent article in Newsweek, which reports that moms and dads nowadays pay impressive sums of money to “parent coaches” for tips on child-rearing. The article begins by describing how the parents of a five-year-old girl wondered how to keep their daughter from bullying her friends who come over to play. The adults
turned to a parent coach. For $75 an hour ($100 for an introductory session), Sally Kidder Davis of Sound Parent (soundparent.com) met with [the parents] to talk through potential solutions. One was to talk to Kate about the importance of being a responsible hostess. If she couldn’t help her guests enjoy themselves, she couldn’t have them over. The strategy worked.
Let me get this straight: This couple ponied up hundreds of dollars to have somebody tell them to simply explain to their daughter that if she couldn’t be nice to her playmates, they couldn’t come over anymore? People actually pay for that “advice”?
It gets worse. The story’s author recounts her own experience with a parent coach:
I explained that my 2-year-old daughter threw tantrums whenever her father wanted to put her to bed instead of me. Of course, we cave in every time. The coach suggested giving our daughter plenty of warning the next time her dad wanted to do the bedtime routine. Perhaps my husband could take her to the bookstore to pick out some new reading material just for them. Then we should follow through no matter how much she protests. (We have yet to muster the courage to try this.)
They’re afraid of their two-year-old. Imagine what that household will be like when the child is fifteen.
Some people apparently are unwilling to acknowledge a basic reality: Young children are feral, selfish, amoral creatures who live only for self-gratification. The good news, though, is that they can be trained. Having a toddler is like having a really smart dog — it can learn things quickly, and it benefits from structure. But you have to keep in mind that you’re a parent, not a pal. Your child is not going to like you sometimes. Deal with it.
The payoff comes later, when your children are well-adjusted, thoughtful, considerate adults. That’s when they make great pals.
That’ll be $100, please. Checks happily accepted.